12 killed, 25 missing as heavy rains lash Uttarakhand

Nainital: Twelve persons were killed and 25 others were missing as torrential rains and landslides hit Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh and Chamoli districts in the wee hours of Friday, burying villages in sludge with many residents trapped under the debris.

This Google Maps image locates Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.

While eight persons were killed in cloudburst in Pithoragarh district, four lives were claimed by heavy rains in Chamoli district.

Two persons were swept away by the muddy waters and debris rushing down the slopes into Siron village in Chamoli.

One person was killed in Ghat block and another in Sithel village in similar circumstances, SDM Chamoli S.K. Barnwal said, adding eight persons trapped in the debris have been rescued in the district so far.

The cloudburst in Singhali area of Pithorgarh district early on Friday morning brought over 100 mm rains in two hours in a region of 50 sq. km, flattening homes in over seven villages, according to officials.

“We have recovered five bodies from Singhali area while three bodies have been recovered from Thal village. The search for others is on by rescue parties consisting of army and paramilitary personnel,” Pithoragarh District Magistrate H.C. Semwal said.

“25 persons, missing from over seven villages of Singhali area in Didiihat sub division of Pithoragarh district, are being traced with the help of ITBP, SSB and Pithoragarh district police,” said district disaster management officer R.S. Rana who was on the spot.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat, who is in New Delhi, expressed grief at the loss of lives and announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of the victims.

“Many people are still trapped under tonnes of debris brought by the heavy rains. ITBP, SDRF and paramilitary personnel are involved in rescue work,” he said.

“I am personally monitoring the situation from here. Chief Secretary too is keeping tab…we will give them (kin of victims) immediate compensation of Rs. 2 lakh as per norms,” he said in New Delhi.

According to disaster management office sources, the cloudburst occurred in the villages of Singhali, Patthakot, Ogla and Thal villages which are under heavy debris with many people feared trapped under it.

The rescuers are trying their best to locate the people, Mr. Rana said.

The Met department in Dehradun had on Thursday warned of heavy rains in isolated places in Uttarakhand especially Nainital, Udhamsingh Nagar and Champawat districts over the 72 hours starting Friday morning.

Light to moderate rains are also likely to occur at most places during the period, it had said.